Happy Halloween! As the leaves change colors and the weather gets cooler in Colorado, we are experiencing the first signs of spring here in New Zealand, though still with a fair share of rainy, cold days!
I kicked off the month by attending a Thesis Bootcamp. Designed for students in the final phase of their dissertation writing, the weekend brought together a group of PhD candidates for 2.5 days of intensive writing. It was a wonderful experience! So great to have the solidarity of writing alongside other students.
This month, Haley and I offered a training called Restorative Practices for Transforming Workplace Culture at VUW. It was a great day with an excellent group of professionals, diving into circle practice and restorative conversations. The first half of the day focused on using restorative tools proactively to build community and trust and establish positive group norms, and the second half of the day focused on how to use restorative processes reactively when issues arise. The course received great feedback.
This was a highly enjoyable course. It was thoroughly practical and immediately useful. Great facilitators and a really engaged group of learners. Restorative practices have existed in various forms across history – and not so ironically, they are the way for the future.
We also offered a Community Restorative Justice Facilitator Training, which was excellent! This is something I have been wanting to do for a while. We offer facilitator training through the university, but the cost that the university sets is often prohibitive for people from non-profits and other community groups. A few months ago, we sent out a message to a few people who had expressed interest saying we wanted to offer a Community RJ Facilitator Training. We calculated how much it would cost for us to provide the training and said we would divide that cost among the total number of registered participants, with a maximum of 20. The training quickly filled and it was an excellent weekend with a group of passionate and highly-skilled community members! One participant even came all the way from Perth, Australia after reading an article I wrote about Building a Restorative University and reaching out to me a couple weeks ago. This is something I would love to do again. I think it is so powerful for community leaders in a variety of settings to have restorative knowledge and skills!
During October, the Chair in Restorative Justice at VUW also hosted a conference titled “Effective and Humane”: Restorative and Māori Justice Approaches to the Prison Crisis. My partner, Sam, and I delivered a workshop on the potential of using circle processes in prisons, inspired by our experience delivering an RJ workshop at Manawatu Prison. I also helped out as a circle keeper, facilitating opening and closing circles at the conference. It was a great couple days and a chance to hear from some amazing international restorative practitioners.
You can check out the most recent edition of the Peacebuilder Newsletter on the topic of Cartoons and Peacebuilding here.